Obituary: Professor Donald Bradley FRS

Birkbeck alumnus, award-winning chemist and Birkbeck Fellow

Donald Charlton Bradley, who died on 20 December 2014 aged 90, received his university education at Birkbeck where he obtained a first-class Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry in 1946, a PhD in Physical Inorganic Chemistry in 1950 and a DSc in 1959.

His first university appointment was also at Birkbeck, where he worked as a lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry for 10 years before moving on to his first professorial appointment at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. In 1965, Professor Bradley was appointed to the Chair of Inorganic Chemistry at Queen Mary, London, where he served as Head of Department until 1983.

His research involved pioneering work on the synthesis and characterisation of compounds containing metal, including the synthesis of volatile compounds of aluminium, gallium and indium. With colleagues, he devised a highly efficient process for the purification of trimethylgallium and trimethylindium. This procedure was patented by the Ministry of Defence and licensed to the Epichem company, who successfully exploited the process achieving worldwide sales.

Widely published, Professor Bradley was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1980. He also received the Ludwig Mond Medal, as well as the Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1987. In 1988 he was made Emeritus Professor of Inorganic Chemistry of the University of London and was awarded the Royal Medal in 1998 by the Royal Society.

Professor Bradley served on many academic committees, including those of Queen Mary College and the University of London, and played an active role in the Royal Society of Chemistry, serving successively as Honorary Secretary/Treasurer, Vice-President and President of the Dalton Division.

A Birkbeck Fellow, and Fellow of Queen Mary, Professor Bradley was Executive Editor of the international journal, Polyhedron, for five years from 1986 and was regularly invited to give courses of lectures internationally, including in Australia, Brazil, China, Hungary, India and the US. He delivered the Bakerian Prize Lecture to the Royal Society in 2010.